KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING — The Qatar-based security consultancy ICSS has denied the latest swath of Football Leaks documents which suggest the organisation raided the hotel rooms of senior Olympic directors in search of evidence of corruption.
Target of the operation, according to the leaks, was Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah who is one of the most influential power brokers in world sport. He is president of the Olympic Council of Asia but may shortly have to step down as head of both the Association of National Olympic Committees and of the revenue-distributing Olympic Solidarity commission.
His control is being threatened by the fall-out of a forgery case in Switzerland linked to an ongoing power struggle within the ruling Kuwait royal family. He has stood down from his IOC roles pending an ethics inquiry.
In the meantime, the media investigative team behind the Football Leaks revelations, has published claims that the International Centre for Sport Security and its then integrity director Chris Eaton – an Australian policeman formerly with Interpol and then FIFA – organised a raid in April 2015 on the Lausanne hotel room of the Sheikh’s close associate Husain Al-Musallam.
The raiders are alleged to have taken laptops which offered access to thousands of emails and documents with the aim of helping strengthen the position within the Olympic movement of Qatar Emir Tamim, another IOC member.
It has long been understood that ICSS took a close interest in Sheikh Ahmad because of his influence, through his Olympic roles, in all sport throughout Asia including football. He was a significant supporter of Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa’s successful bid to land the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation and was himself, briefly, a member of the governing FIFA Council.
Within hours of the documents’ publication ICSS responded with vehement denials of their contents.
What was notable was that thisis the first time that an organisation has responded so vehemently to the Football Leaks documentation. Previous revelations about behind-the-scenes activities within world football federation FIFA, European governing body UEFA, clubs and agents have all been greeted mostly with largely confirmatory silence.
Not in this case. An ICSS statement said:
The ICSS rejects outright the distortions, misrepresentations and falsehoods reported by some media today about our organisation and some of the key people who work for and who have worked with us.
We can only conclude that these media outlets are either misguided or incompetent, or even worse driven by a deliberate agenda to create a false and harmful narrative.
We say categorically that no crimes have been committed by any person working with, or for the ICSS undertaking sport integrity investigations. This is an absolute falsehood.
When contacted by the relevant media with long lists of questions, the ICSS acknowledged receipt of their correspondence, and pointed out that the questions contained considerable factual and assumptive errors.
A surprising lack of neutrality, the significant misinformation, the obvious bias and preconception was dominant throughout what seemed to be a random series of points that comprised factually incorrect material inclusive of inaccurate timings, names and references.
The ICSS then clearly advised these journalists that they should clarify the so-called information with their sources. We understand this material to be a combination of purchased or hacked documents and/or emails, which at the very least, needed to be reviewed again by them for authenticity.
Our organisation is extremely concerned regarding these stories attacking the ICSS. These stories are highly defamatory and include many false assertions.